There are many reasons why people run from forgiving and then the are reasons people have for justification of it. It took me forgiving though to actually see it. Oh the irony! Recognize that there are reasons why people justify not forgiving and perhaps you have taken on one or a couple of these.
1. They don’t deserve it.
Whether you believe someone does or does not deserve forgiveness is not your decision or judgment call. Praise God! If it were your decision how many people would be forgiven? If it were up to others to decide your fate of forgiveness; where would you be? Imagine for a moment if God never forgave you; where would you be? In this exact situation you may be in a place that you do not want to be because you are choosing to harbor unforgiveness. Forgiveness is a command and it is not about anyone else. It is about your choice to be obedient to God’s Word for the purpose of glorifying Him.
What you believe someone else deserves is not your decision as God probably did not create you to judge the people in the universe as He is God and can handle it just fine. Sometimes we just need to grasp that reality that God can handle things and all we need to do is just be obedient and let God be God. When that reality sinks in and our obedience level increases; our relationships change and the fruit becomes more evident in our lives and the lives of others. Perhaps those people who do not deserve forgiveness may just be seeking forgiveness because they realize what they have done and as a result too of your obedience more people’s lives will change. If you never forgive and choose instead to play God you will never know. But rest assured; these words are clear in Mark 11:25, “And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” (NIV) It is better to forgive regardless of what your mind will tell you so that you stay on the side of God and not that of the enemy who wants to kill you.
2. The person’s dead
A person’s life status does not change your obedience to God. God’s Word and commands are for every day and not just the days when other people are alive. It would not make sense that you would be absolved of being obedient to His Word just because someone else is not alive. That is a trap and lie from the enemy because it will cause you to justify your sin of unforgiveness and only keep you harboring it and living with the continued consequences therein.
What a person did that caused pain does not change because the person is no longer living. The person still did what the person did and for you to be free from the pain of it will require forgiveness. Remember that your obedience to the Lord is and must always remain the focus. Additionally; the person’s death itself may be something that needs to be forgiven. I remember years ago speaking with a woman who was grieving the loss of her husband who had been murdered. She was grieving as though it were yesterday and in the conversation she revealed it was 12 years prior. She was still in pain and agony and I asked her if she forgave him for dying. She had never heard of such a thing. Most people haven’t. She had forgiven the murder and that was it; but never did she know she needed to forgive her husband for dying and what she was left with to manage in her life as a result. His death cheated her and she lived like it; even though it wasn’t his fault she still was cheated in her mind.
I saw her three weeks later and she was healed and even met a wonderful man! Within 6 months she was married. She shared that she never knew how her not forgiving him for dying had such an impact on her life. As she sought the Lord she repented of harboring the unforgiveness and other symptoms and she was set free. Although her husband was no longer living; the forgiveness was for her being obedient and released from the bondage of unforgiveness.
It is a lesson that regardless of someone’s life status or even mental or physical state; we must be diligent to be obedient and remain steadfastly focused on God and His Word.
3. I can’t forgive
There is a difference in not forgiving because you do not know how and because you can’t. Not knowing does not mean you can’t it simply means you do not know how. Believing that you cannot forgive brings on other issues. Some may include:
- I’m not worth it
The guilt of sin causes many to fall into a downward spiral. The shame, embarrassment, condemnation, self-loathing; and even remorse or regret keep people in bondage. All of those are strongholds and lies from the enemy. So long as you live in a state of unworthiness and undeserving you will never experience the grace and mercy that God extends to His children. God has given you all that you need in order to forgive. His Word is clear to forgive. Why would God give a command to forgive and then want His children to believe they are not worthy of doing it and receiving what comes through it? What kind of father would that be?
I can share with you from personal experience that I did not know how to forgive myself. I found it much easier to forgive others because I could readily accept they didn’t know what they were doing. Me on the other hand; oh no. I should have known better and because I did not I was not worthy of forgiveness. What occurred though was that as I started to forgive myself I started increasing in power and it kept building. Additionally; the Lord showed me that if I see others as deserving of forgiveness and I am no different than them then how can I judge myself to a different standard? Once I understood and received that my life change. It will for you too!
- Pride of letting go
Forgiving means that you are ready to change and holding on to the pride of who you are and what you own will need to be torn down. Remember that all you are owning and harboring are things that are killing you. There are no assets in unforgiveness. Your pride may suffer a little because the life you built based upon your unforgiveness will change; however, when you walk with the Lord the changes are always better for you and best for His Kingdom. When you make the choice to get over yourself and let God deal with you in accordance with His Word everyone wins. Those around you will experience change and therefore your choice to be obedient and become the more real you is a blessing for all.
4. Fear God won’t justify me
Any fear is not of God. Some may want you to believe that there are some healthy fears; although I cannot seem to find this in the Bible. It would not make any sense for people to have fear and then attempt to trust God for justice at the same time. The oxymoronic ideologies only keep people trapped and that is certainly not of God. What I can find in the book of Psalms are wonderful words in Psalm 28:7 that read, “The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.” (NIV)
When it comes to dealing with issues of forgiveness God is on your side. When you go to the Lord out of reverence and with a heart seeking Him to be obedient to His word it is pleasing to Him. When you make the choice to lay down the burden and the pain with it; know He is on your side. He will never leave you nor forsake you and as you seek Him that fear will be released from you. You will be vulnerable without a doubt although if there is anyone to be vulnerable in front of it is Jesus. I remember when I was in the process of forgiving I truly did not know the amount of unforgiveness I had nor did I know the immense pain that was evident. I was the one who suffered much torture and turmoil and was a child victim and I felt angry that I had to be the one to forgive; however, as I did the Lord revealed to me that His ways are just and because He is a just God all I had to do was be obedient and all would work out in the end.
The end was a changed heart, mind and life. The same will be for you too so long as you choose obedience. God is a just God and will protect those who seek Him for all things. Do not allow forgiveness to be what slips by.
5. It’s not fair I have to forgive
Being the person to forgive is not always easy nor may it seem fair; although ask yourself this: “Was it fair that Jesus died on the cross when He was innocent?” There are times in life when we may be judged fairly and we may be victims. While it may be painful; God’s Word does not change. The Bible simply states, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:23) (NIV) Whether or not any of us feel justified in forgiving someone does not change the command to forgive. When we get the reality that God’s Word is clear and that our focus must remain on Him then life changes.
What occurs when we have the right focus is that what others are doing will be seen as the distraction that it is. The enemy wants people to focus on the wrongs of others which simply then puts people in the point of living in vanity and not forgiveness. So long as the focus is on being the victim and with childish thoughts as to why it is not fair then the level of immaturity is revealed as well as the other symptoms.
It is best to step up like a mature Christian, focused on the forgiveness and knowing that the enemy is simply trying to bait you into a battle that you need not even fight because through forgiveness; you already have the victory.
6. Nothing will change
The idea that nothing will change when you forgive is almost laughable. Why would someone think that obedience changes nothing? It changes everything! The enemy is like a lion prowling and so long as you believe nothing will change by being obedient then the enemy sets you up for an easy but long death. Remember that the enemy never doubted God he just gets people to. So long as what people believe is a distortion of God and His Word then the enemy wins.
Believing that forgiveness does not matter will only keep you from living the full life that you were meant to live. Believing that lie is like believing that eating healthy will have no health impact. The words of Apostle Paul make it clear: ‘For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. (NASB) People know what they should do but when they do not; there are consequences. Believing that nothing will change does not mean do not do what must be done. This thinking is a distortion of the mind and will only cause more strife and separation in your life.
By getting your mind straight and taking every thought captive unto the Lord you will not only live in obedience, but also forgiveness and the abundance that God has already ordained for you.
As any person can come up with numerous reasons to not forgive; none of them are substantial enough to be upheld against God’s Word. The Word is for yesterday, today and for all the days to come. There are no discrepancies and no excuses. Yes forgiveness is a process and each person progresses through the process at varying paces; which is normal and acceptable.
When it is time to forgive; whether it is others, yourself or even God know that He has given you everything you need in order to be successful. There is nothing you cannot do without Him and He will be with you. It simply is a matter of you laying yourself down to overcome yourself and choose life; and ultimately Him for the bigger purpose for your life. While it may be a challenge take the challenge and live in forgiveness. It is worth it because what is beyond it is more than you can imagine!
Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Forgiveness Tip #10
Forgiveness isn’t about the other person; it’s about you, your obedience to Christ, your future and your freedom.
Julie Blair is President of Julie Blair Ministries and host of ‘Living in Forgiveness’ television and radio programs that airs daily to over 3 Billion people on 5 continents. To learn more about forgiveness and the love of Christ or to speak to your church or business visit www.julieblair.com
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